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New Construction Termite Treatment

Pre-Construction Prevention of Termite Infestation

New Construction Termite Treatment Options

  • Soil Treatment – Sometimes called a soil pre-treat.  This involves spraying a pesticide on the soil where a building or addition will be built.  This includes both a horizontal treatment and a vertical treatment after any backfill or landscaping is present.  Establishing a continuous soil barrier around the home is a key element of a proper treatment.
  • Framing Treatment – Called a Borate Pre-treat this involves spraying a pesticide that is formulated with boric acid which is toxic to wood destroying insects such as termites and beetles.  It’s applied to at least the lower 2 feet of the wood on the first floor of the building.
  • Physical barriers such as Termimesh which consist of a screen that termites can’t get through. 
  • Bait Stations installed within 30 days of landscaping being completed.

New Construction Termite Treatment Requirements

  • Texas Administrative Code Requirements for Subterranean Termite Pre-Construction Treatments
  • Texas Department of Agriculture Guide for Builders and Commercial Customers
  • IRC 2021 R318 Protection Against Subterranean Termites
  • Applies to construction of new commercial and residential buildings as well as additions to commercial and residential buildings.
  • Only impacts subterranean termites.  Drywood termites in the Houston region are un-affected by soil based termiticides.  Learn about the types of termites in Houston.
  • HUD-NPMA-99-A Subterranean Termite Protection Builder’s Guarantee – completed by the builder on FHA/VA/HUD conforming loans. A warranty is available when full treatment is made.
  • HUD-NPMA-99-B is often required for FHA/VA/HUD conforming loans.  Completion of this form is included as part of new construction termite treatment when requested.

Soil Pre-Treatment Options

Soil pretreatments make up the vast majority of new construction termite treatment.  There are more than two termiticides, pesticides for termites, available on the market.  However, the efficacy, durability, and economics conspire to reduce the functional choices to two options; fipronil and imidacloprid.  Imidacloprid is a neo-nictinoid.  Fipronil is a more potent and durable pesticide and has largely replaced Imidacloprid as the pesticide of choice.  It is however more expensive and often there are viable economic reasons to use the least expensive compliance option.  One example might be a building consisting of a concrete slab, with concrete block wall and a steel roof.  Low risk through the absence of cellulose materials indicates that a lower cost pesticide is preferred.  In other cases such as an owner/builder using fipronil at the maximum rate allowed on the label, with a follow up trench treatment and application of framing treatment may be an acceptable cost of construction to reduce the risk of infestation on a building that the owner expects to enjoy for a long period of time.  The termiticide or pesticide used is really the only lever available to manage cost in a soil pre-treatment.  The law requires following the label and their often external considerations with FHA/HUD/VA mortgage warranty requirements that need to be sorted through.  Saving $200 on pre-treatment only to find you can’t sell to a VA buyer isn’t really a savings in my view.

 

I divide the available options into two groups.  Compliance and Preferred.  Compliance is the Imidacloprid which is more economical and offered as a lower cost path to code and building compliance requirements.  Preferred is a Fipronil termiticide which has shown longer durability in studies and provides better protection, but at a higher pesticide cost.

Compliance Treatment Options

New Construction Termite Treatment
New Construction Termite Treatment
  • Imidacloprid based termiticide at .05% concentration
  • Imidacloprid based termiticide at .10% concentration


Both of these options are lower cost than the preferred options.  Excellent choices for temporary structures, structures with a low risk of infestation such as steel and concrete structures, or situations where economic factors mandate keeping construction pre-treatment costs to a minimum.  There are a number of Imidacloprid termiticides on the market with similar label rates.  The biggest drawbacks are that Imidacloprid has a shorter lifespan in the soil and is highly toxic to bees.  As a rule, everything kills bees, but neonictanoid pesticides are especially brutal on bees and have been linked to issues such as colony collapse disorder.  They can be used safely as a treatment option in the soil.

Preferred Treatment Options

New Construction Termite Treatment
New Construction Termite Treatment
  • Fipronil based termiticide at .06%
  • Fipronil based termiticide at .09%
  • Fipronil based termiticide at .125%

 

These three options are the preferred or recommended pre-construction options.  They provide a more effective non-repellent termiticide that has shown in studies that it binds to the soil for a longer period of time.  The drawback is that it’s expensive regardless of which brand is being used.  I primarily use Taurus SC and Termidor SC.  Although there are some situations where Termidor HE makes sense.  The primary benefit of HE is that it requires half the water.

Framing Treatment Options

BoraCare® preventative new construction termite treatment
BoraCare® preventative new construction termite treatment
  • Boracare® with dye
  • Boracare® without dye

Boracare® is functionally the only framing treatment option on the market.  Sometimes Tim-Bor® will be brought up.  Tim-Bor® lacks label approval for framing treatment in construction.  In addition it has a habit of leaving a powdery residue.  Both contain the same active ingredient, boric acid.  Boracare® also contains additives that help it penetrate and bind to the wood more effectively than Tim-Bor®.  When properly applied and followed up with regular inspections Boracare® has an attractive manufacture warranty against infestation damage.  

The only real choice is the use of dye or omission of dye.  The dye helps visualize where the product has been applied.  In areas with finished concrete it’s common to omit the dye as the Boracare product is virtually invisible once dry.  Another good reason to skip the dye is the presence of trim or doors that will be stained for appearance reasons.  The dye used is a “turf” dye commonly used for hydro-seeding.  While it can break down in the environment it has been known to stain concrete and wood finishes.

Bait System Options

Trelona® ATBS Termite Treatment
Trelona® ATBS Termite Treatment
  • Trelona Annual ATBS

Baiting systems can be used as part of a construction termite prevention strategy.  They are one of my favorite tools as they have shown in several University studies that they can achieve area-wide termite suppression.  These are less invasive than trenching and tolerant of landscape modifications and features such as driveways and pools.  You’ll have to look closely at the image above to spot the bait station.  Despite not being very visible they provide great protection to structures.

Contracting for New Construction Termite Treatment

There are a couple of approaches to handling new construction termite treatment.  The recommended approach is to contract for all the pre-treatment on your construction project and then pay as the phases are completed.  This locks in the treatment cost.  Pesticide prices have been increasing dramatically since 2021 which is impacting treatment costs.

 

Alternately, you can contract for each piece as you need it.  This allows you the flexibility to use different vendors if you would like.  The disadvantage is that your costs may change if the pesticide or other input costs have changed since the last phase of pre-treatment.

FHA / HUD New Construction Termite Treatment Requirements
FHA / HUD New Construction Termite Treatment Requirements

IRC 2021 - Section R318 - Protection Against Subterranean Termites

Note: The owner of Big City Pest and Wildlife is an International Code Council certified Residential Combination Inspector, aka ICC R5.  The excerpt below from the 2021 edition of the building code is provided as a courtesy to help clients understand the building code requirements.  Building code is a minimum safe standard of construction and the requirement varies by location, project and a number of other factors.  Requirements from one edition of the code to the next are substantially similar in this area.  Where AHJ (authority having jurisdiction – usually a city or county), Architect, or Engineer requirements are stricter those will be the ruling requirements.  Some counties do not enforce building code and the builder/owner would be wise to follow the standards below to protect their property from termite infestation and subsequent damage.  The owner is happy to help with code consulting where it is within the scope of his expertise.

R318.1 Subterranean termite control methods. In areas subject to damage from termites as indicated by Table R301.2, protection shall be by one, or a combination, of the following methods:

1. Chemical termiticide treatment in accordance with Section R318.2.

2. Termite-baiting system installed and maintained in accordance with the label.

3. Pressure-preservative-treated wood in accordance with the provisions of Section R317.1.

4. Naturally durable termite-resistant wood.

5. Physical barriers in accordance with Section R318.3 and used in locations as specified in Section R317.1.

6. Cold-formed steel framing in accordance with Sections R505.2.1 and R603.2.1.

R318.1.1 Quality mark. Lumber and plywood required to be pressure-preservative treated in accordance with Section R318.1 shall bear the quality mark of an approved inspection agency that maintains continuing supervision, testing and inspection over the quality of the product and that has been approved by an accreditation body that complies with the requirements of the Ameri- can Lumber Standard Committee treated wood program.

R318.1.2 Field treatment. Field-cut ends, notches and drilled holes of pressure-preservative-treated wood shall be retreated in the field in accordance with AWPA M4.

R318.2 Chemical termiticide treatment. Chemical termiti- cide treatment shall include soil treatment or field-applied wood treatment. The concentration, rate of application and method of treatment of the chemical termiticide shall be in strict accordance with the termiticide label.

R318.3 Barriers. Approved physical barriers, such as metal or plastic sheeting or collars specifically designed for termite prevention, shall be installed in a manner to prevent termites from entering the structure. Shields placed on top of an exte- rior foundation wall shall be used only if in combination with another method of protection.

R318.4 Foam plastic protection. In areas where the probability of termite infestation is “very heavy” as indicated in Figure R318.4, extruded and expanded polystyrene, polyiso- cyanurate and other foam plastics shall not be installed on the exterior face or under interior or exterior foundation walls or slab foundations located below grade. The clearance between foam plastics installed above grade and exposed earth shall be not less than 6 inches (152 mm).

Exceptions:

  1. Buildings where the structural members of walls, floors, ceilings and roofs are entirely of noncom- bustible materials or pressure-preservative-treated wood.

  2. Where in addition to the requirements of Section R318.1, an approved method of protecting the foam plastic and structure from subterranean termite damage is used.

  3. On the interior side of basement walls.

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